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Anti-carbon tax protesters wave signs and chant slogans as they block a westbound lane of the Trans Canada highway near Cochrane, Alta., on April 1.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, facing challenges from provincial premiers about the increase in federal carbon pricing, pushed back Monday, saying the leaders would rather complain than come up with their own strategies for dealing with climate change.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey, the last remaining Liberal provincial leader, wrote to Mr. Trudeau on the weekend calling for an urgent meeting of leaders on the hike.

Monday’s $15-a-tonne increase applies in every province and territory except for British Columbia, Quebec and Northwest Territories, which have their own systems of carbon pricing. The increase means the cost of a litre of gasoline will go up by 3.3 cents.

“All those premiers that are busy complaining about the price on pollution, but not putting forward a concrete alternative that they think would be better for their communities, are just playing politics,” Mr. Trudeau said during a news conference in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough.

“But we’re not seeing detailed plans from the premiers on this. They would much rather try to complain about it and make political hay out of this.”

In a posting on X on Monday, the federal Liberal Party targeted Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who has been a vigorous critic of carbon pricing.

Mr. Poilievre’s “climate denial” would cost people their Canada Carbon Rebate and stop Canada’s progress in fighting climate change, the post said.

But Mr. Poilievre has not been the only critic of the federal policy. Premiers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario as well as Atlantic Canada have called for a pause in the increase. After meeting with Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew last week, Mr. Poilievre said he supports that province’s bid for an exemption.

Mr. Furey wrote in his letter that he welcomed an opportunity to discuss strategic approaches that would have meaningful outcomes in the collective fight against climate change.

He wrote that his government’s climate action plan has lowered emissions to 8.3 million tonnes a year – the lowest level since 1992.

However, he noted that carbon pricing is challenging in a province where there is no rail system or subway system, and “inadequate” infrastructure to support electric vehicles.

Absent such alternatives, he said that increasing the cost of fuel is challenging to residents of his province.

The Premier urged Mr. Trudeau to pause the increase in federal carbon pricing until affordability and infrastructure issues improve, and convene an emergency meeting of leaders from across the country to discuss proposed alternatives.

“Solutions sought through a collaborative approach will lead to real and meaningful changes,” he wrote.

At a Monday news conference in the Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo, Mr. Poilievre said that if he wins the next election he would support the use of technology rather than taxation to reduce emissions.

He said he would work to lower the cost of alternative energy sources by such means as quickly approving hydroelectric dams, improving tidal power off the East Coast.

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